Many users may not feel comfortable with the knowledge that their lives can become an open book, but Ray Kurzweil, who has been described a futurist and an inventor, in addition to being an author, and who now works at Google with the title of director of engineering, says that Google hopes to know you better than anyone else, and that includes your spouse.
In a recent interview with the Observer, Kurzweil reveals that his work at Google involves the creation of a computer system that understands and interprets human behavior. 66–year-old Ray Kurzweil has been involved with artificial intelligence for a long time, and Bill Gates describes him as being the best predictor of the future of artificial intelligence. He is the author of several books including the best seller, The Singularity, in which he predicts that by the year 2029, computers will be on par with humans, and may even surpass them in terms of ability. The premise is based on what has been described as the Law of Accelerating Returns, where technological advances continue to increase in what can be termed as exponential rates.
The project appears to have search results incorporated with the meaning expressed in the language, so that Google may actually know the answer to questions before they are asked. It may sound far-sighted that eventually Google may know you better than anyone else, but the company has high hopes in stating that the mission is to organize all information, making it accessible and useful to everyone. Kurzweil explains that one of the ways that this can be accomplished is by reading everything that you have written on the web. That includes all email messages, all of your search queries, and perhaps your social network posts. Computers will then be able to very quickly sort through all of the information to offer intelligent answers or participate in discourse with users.
Ray Kurzweil has been successful as an inventor and entrepreneur. His inventions include the flatbed scanner, the software for Optical Character Recognition, and his voice recognition technology that became the precursor to Siri, which Apple uses in its iOs. He was befriended by musician Stevie Wonder who encouraged him to get into the music industry, leading him to invent the K250 that synthesized the sound of musical instruments from keyboard input.
As far as Artificial Intelligence is concerned, he explains that it will not be an antagonistic or dominating relationship, but one in which computers will be seen more as friends, where they can help to expand the mental capacity and functions of human minds. Despite his accomplishments, he has many critics. Some view him as a brilliant visionary while others see him as a crackpot. However, when placed in context, it is easy to realize where Google has placed their bets. In recent months, Google has bought, or appears to be involved in the acquisition of, several robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics and smart thermostat manufacturer Nest Labs. The recent acquisitions also include a British AI start-up called DeepMind.
As intriguing or incredulous as it may sound, Google may be much closer to achieving the goal of knowing you better than anyone, and it is not inconceivable that it can be accomplished before 2029. All Google accounts are verified by a telephone number which can be connected to a physical address. Your IP address indicates exactly where you are. They know the sites that you visit and can tell what you like or dislike. Computing power is now cheaper and much more readily available than ever. All of the content that is published can be curated and analysed with faster computers, so it appears that when Google hopes to know you better than anyone, it is much more than wishful thinking.
By Dale Davidson